Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Australian Curriculum & The Arts: What it means to you.

The Australian National Curriculum is what we have been waiting for for a long time. The meshing up of all current state and territory curriculums is a wonderful leap forward which will unify education across Australian schools. Also the national benefit for assessing and reporting the nation's students  will provide a fair analysis for comparisons. All Australian children should be learning at the same level and of similar content. That is the benefit of having a National Curricuulm.

In terms of the propsed curriculum, the draft Shape of the Australian Curriculum is not proposing any dramtic shift in ability or level of content in terms of learning from what currently exists in Queensland. The draft is a document that has been consulted on by a number of different bodies; teachers, schools, educators, educational organisations, and other key people who have collated the existing state and territory curriculums into one inclusive document. This draft has included the most benefical aspects of each curriculum from the states and territories into one.

To give you a better idea of educating in the 21st century, the shift is from rote learning in independent subjects to multidisciplinary cross-curriculum and participation based learning. In English....content is encouraged to be taught where suitable through other subjects so students experience a rich and diverse learning environment. Students are now the centre of learning rather than a teacher centered approach.  Subjects are banding together to deliver content rather than seperately. This approach is beneficial as a wider scope of learning can occur without being 'watered down' and content can be reinforced or revisited in other learning styles through other subjects. So where are we at now?

The National Australian Curriculum is being delivered in sections with each section being consulted on by the people as listed above and the public. Phase one has already been implemented; History, science , english and geography. Phase two, the Arts, is in draft mode and is open for feedback from the public until 23 Sep 2012.

As I am biased in my interest in the National Curriculum ( I only care about the visual arts!)... I do however see merit in other subject areas and the benefit and potential for improved learning and pedgogoy across all curriculum subject delivery. The beauty about the Arts, specially visual arts, is that it can deliver other subject area content really successfully. The Shape paper talks in terms of 'interrelationhips' and 'interdisciplinary' into other subjects; think in terms of the Arts as the centre of the curriculum by integrating other subjects into  the Arts or by merging the Arts into other subjects.

In a primary school setting, a thematic approach to learning could work really well to integrate a number of subject areas surrouding the one theme. For example. A unit on Dinosaurs will look at the subjects; History, Geography, Science, and Visual Arts.

In secondary, a duality approach to teaching with and through another subject to deliver skills or knowledge is the key to covering the curriculum. For example; a Unit on War in a History subject can not not look at the Art produced at the time of war, as posters and propaganda and  was a huge part of communiticating about the issue at the time. This idea of a duality approach though does not mean all facets of the school curriculum or subject syllabus will be covered nor will all teachers in all subject areas feel the same way about delivering the National curriculum in this way. This approach is a contemporary way of delivery education for today's children (and some older Teachers get stuck in their way of ONLY teaching their subject and their subject ONLY).

I hope this sheds some light on those parents out there who wish to understand better what this new National Curriculum will mean for their child.

Please feel free comment any of your concerns. Please bare in mind this is my interpretation and other edcuator's opinions may differ. 

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